Are Online Degrees Worth The Trouble?

Consider your expectations and needs; interview graduates before settling on a program

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

August 31, 2001

4 Min Read

Q: How can I determine the best online university for an MBA/ MIS program, and the value of the education and the diploma itself? How important is the name of the institution vs. the education imparted?
--Jeffrey K., data-processing systems architect

A: Online education has made huge advances since the days when correspondence schools advertised on matchbook covers. These programs are a boon to full-time employees, the disabled, and people who live far from a good university. A growing number of well-respected universities offer online degrees. However, a traditional program still carries more weight with most employers.

"While the value of any education--online or in-class--is indisputable, don't be surprised if a significant number of institutions fail to wow your would-be employers," says Mary Jane Range, president of recruiting firm BTS Search. It would be hard to argue, though, that an online MBA from the London School of Economics (at $125,000, by the way) should be viewed as any less credible than an in-class MBA from a state college.

Research your options thoroughly and decide what you want from an MBA. Is it the credential? Making connections? Choose reputable universities, learn everything you can about them, and study your online options. Beverly Lieberman, president of Halbrecht-Lieberman Associates, recommends getting references from grads before signing up.

Q: I'm a consultant in the software division of a company that manufactures robots for the semiconductor industry. Recently, the company had to lay off 20% of the employees, but the software division was untouched. One day, our manager called and told me I might be laid off or absorbed as a permanent staffer. I'm going to opt for permanent status, if I can. What salary should I ask, given that my current firm is charging them $75 an hour?

A: Lieberman says you can expect two-thirds of your hourly rate. But you may get as much as 20% more or less than that. "Speak to friends, co-workers, and recruiters who are familiar with the norms for your company and the semiconductor industry in your area," advises Kevin Rosenberg, managing director of recruiting firm BridgeGate LLC. Also check out salary sites (information Be reasonable, but don't undersell yourself, either--it's a lot easier to negotiate salary at the outset. Having good research from a number of different sources will ensure that your request is reasonable. Best of luck with the transition.

Q: I play a major role in strategic planning for my company: All department heads, including the general manager, consult me before making a decision. My employees earn double the money I do, but I'm encountering professional jealousies--my colleagues don't respect me and often snap at me. I can't command respect within my team, though everyone in the company knows I play a vital role in project implementation. My manager, the general manager, seems uninterested, and I'm too shy to bother him with details. I'm the only woman and the youngest among five senior managers. I'm considering leaving the job, but I don't think this will solve the problem. I love my job.
--Varsha B., Dubai, United Arab Emirates

A: First, get some solid information: Check with recruiters and online for reliable salary information. Speak with your manager, perhaps away from the office, in an appropriate setting where you can speak your mind. In a businesslike way, you may wish to let him know how much you respect his advice and ask about training courses, as well as suggest that you feel undervalued and think you're worth more than you're being paid. You've advanced quickly, and it seems you could benefit from management training. Get some courses or workshops identified through the Internet or from human resources.

Having said that, there may be cultural and gender considerations in how business is conducted in Dubai that make this strategy acceptable in the United States but unsuccessful in an Arab country. So you might want to find a mentor--an older, successful businesswoman who can help you navigate the workplace and culture successfully. Find her through friends and family, women's business associations, or even by asking for an introduction to a woman that you admire.
--Diane Rezendes Khirallah

Need some career advice? Send your questions to [email protected].

Never Miss a Beat: Get a snapshot of the issues affecting the IT industry straight to your inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights